DIAGONAL EXCURSIONS

To think about not thinking about the mourning doves was still thinking about them.

So still in the backyard, talking of sorrow.

We had been navigating through childhood neighborhoods to rescue magnolias.

Driving diagonally through crisscrossed streets for a new point of view.

We drove the wrong car, the one that wasn’t paid for.

That was before the ghost of the house stole your newest watch.

Time isn’t helpful, one of us said.

The wind moved through us as if we were wind.

Our shortcomings mistranslated next weekend.

We left the tome of questions on the coffee table before one of us drowned.

The TV was out of touch.

We visited a museum built out of numbers.

Someone said, I’m an exhibit of deconstruction.

I’m a parallelogram.

I lost the horizon while I slept.

I danced with the old woman because she was already me.

When the windshield wipers broke, it was raining on the highway.

The model ship folded into an envelope on someone’s doorstep.

Strangers spoke of their dogs and how crowded Walmart was at night.

I wasn’t there.

I was watching myself much later.

The river was swollen from snow uphill.

All intel indicated epitomes not epiphanies.

We burned our effigies in olive oil thunder away from the huddle of cows.

Night carried scents of smoke-wood and rain.

Nature buried her own somewhere we visited while dreaming.

Our unchronological stories bargained one kind of longing for another.

We wanted to trade places for a week or two.

One hand clapping sounded like a heartbeat.

I slept in forsythia branches sprouting yellow stars but woke in daffodil bells.

The coyotes may have visited.

I can’t tell.

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FROZEN VIOLINS

Winter froze violins under the lake in sixteenth notes; sheet music mocking ancient heroes too tired to navigate Thursday.

Proclamations became frozen birds in a reel of forgetting that the moon mourned lost footprints.

The children hoarded magic under porch light.

Shed behind the thickest trees, our words tired of us; our coats lined with notebooks no one knew how to read, armor for someone else’s heartbreak.

I was hungry for a kind betrayal of darkness, that someone would scurry the trail towards an opening in paragraphs.

When the queen abdicated in the fairy tale, she left a note about silence.

They say electrical currents won’t ameliorate the abstract plummet; that the king still wanted an explanation for a running out of town.

We were good until we couldn’t be good anymore; mismatched arias about subletting suffering.

No one knew how to take it really; the quiet of profound slogans on fences.

When the angels in the script were no longer enamored of us, we sent fan mail to glaciers set into free-fall; the penguins discussing hierarchy.

I became my mother without a cane; a day with rumors of departure under lightbulbs that didn’t work anymore, a Christmas tree of miniature errant postcards.

We might celebrate something akin to composure at the letting out of animal noises when the bullet hits its mark and breath dismantles the sky’s promises.

We were ice fisherwomen who cut out the violins and cut our hands on strings.

There must be an explanation for some of this.

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PERMUTATIONS

It was more difficult when others watched the inevitable splintering.

Other times, being unseen for too long was dangerous.

When all was said and done, the finish line might be cursory illusion.

The start gate, after all, had been jarring, to say the least.

The obstacle course in the scavenger hunt could subside with the fluffing of pillows.

One hoped for special effects while stringing the talismans onto a wrist band without a clear narrative.

The stop sign was stolen when one slipped out of focus.

I had forgotten to use permanent ink, and the sudden rain encrypted my sentences written to an estranged beloved who would sleep through winter anyway.

The mail carrier sings the same song every morning, which some days I find comforting.

The refrain often follows under eaves that don’t terrify completely.

When three hawks fly overhead, slicing the sky, they form a perfect triangle without a familiar beginning, middle, or end.

Their beating wings don’t cast shadows or substantially change anything, yet a feeling takes shape, a balloon that lifts the horizon.

Then the fog comes to erase my memories, my wanderings through the forest at night seeking absolution.

Sometimes the answer is another question spiraling.

Crooked hallways lead into strangers’ houses; the books lining shelves mocking their readers.

Boredom and disenchantment become synonyms that can’t fill a pitcher, pour out a potion.

Not every day wants to be a page worth saving.

It was something to think about while imagining the aptitude of stars, the powdered bones of the dead encased in glass.

I wanted to help someone (anyone really), but I was busy drowning meaningless souvenirs at the banks of ill-thought-out behavior.

Transgressions could be a mistake of experiment, an unfortunate delay of composure.

Things became so multi-layered, the mirror couldn’t do anything except multiply sadness.

No strands of gray or white hair could be expunged forever.

The memo targeted the ones who were dreaming in dumpsters.

When the storm hit, the ships unmoored.

The wind doesn’t say where it has been even though I listen.

I could sleep only when church bells rang or when I located my grandmother’s purple dragon broach.

The stray dog has soot in its mouth and was frightened by anyone calling until the shaking of small stones.

Should you visit, I may not hear you if I am once again painting noise.

The apple pie might burn while I dust for ghosts in the basement.

Don’t be alarmed by the clanging of.

Trial drugs would be money-makers, stock raisers, but no one believes, life rafts.

The disease could mutate a handful of times by the time you read this.

Ancient sages in a bamboo forest are sculpting giant hands to clap through eternity.

The applause craved occurs in increments like a song.

I discarded all clocks to know myself better.

I missed the ticking when I wake, disorientated.

Was my own room an essay or a multiple-choice test?

Things morphed into other objects while ideas receded from the brain’s windows.

The object of the race transmogrified.

I remembered again that someone should tell the mother of the girl who studies under the willow tree during lunchtime that she needs a new coat and warmer socks.

The others are always throwing a ball, inventing new names for lost rabbits.

I wouldn’t say I was scared to any applicable parties.

The invitation came too late to RSVP properly.

I wanted to bring wine and align my errant ducks, lost at the border.

They echoed while I separated again, hiding from windows.

Tomorrow I will be better though I wasn’t sure if it was Friday or Saturday.

I’ll sew delicate curtains and invite the ghosts upstairs.

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ALL SAINTS’ DAY

The news loops and re-loops until tomorrow’s loop loops the next tomorrow.

We are naming the butterflies before the frost settles in.

The storm windows are winning against us in light only painters can manipulate.

Words are trite in the backdrop of war, but someone needs a distraction.

Boys play golf in the field, worried about a physics test.

The month’s money slips through unfortunate calculations.

The cello, though restrung, has forgotten all melodies.

Saints have crystalized to stained glass windows.

Things hurt in new places.

Last night I was something more interesting.

Last night I wasn’t preoccupied with home.

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WINGS

Someone tethered the moon to a harbor of disappointment.

Someone offered rain to dilute the argument of sleep.

Staying on course to sun-fall required the bravery of warriors who don’t believe in war.

The day betrayed with a weariness of children up too late who can’t sleep.

Tell the neurosurgeon you want wings.

Dinner, an act of kindness on the floor of imagination’s wind-fall.

None of this useful except for the redemption of clocks.

Meaning took its suitcase to a strange waiting room.

Someone said you should decorate doubt with composure.

That the moon would return its light on a silver plate of promise.

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FALL IN

I swept the sun from the garage floor because everything hurt in reverse, and I couldn’t climb up to catch the autumn leaves as if someone were listening.

No one shows up for the conversation about Monday mediocrity at the broken mailbox or rusted fire pit that the rain claimed from memory.

I couldn’t help burning the contract with myself to turn the layers inside out with the patience of daffodil bulbs and daylight.

The streetlight will mock the moon after darkness sets her onyx wings to enclose us without a soundtrack, without a sound.

I applied for the job of holding things during the relay race toward knowledge that doesn’t follow the chipmunk underground, shatter windows, or make chimneys crumble when we’re asleep in dreams of splendor.

It’s funny how the house pretends to know us, we pretend, before the next day might begin its shivering.

There should be someone to call in your contacts to explain the measurements of hours that meander, but not exponentially or terribly eloquently—blankly.

The owl holds winter in her feathers and will continue writing her sestina. Wing bones, like the bones in one’s hand, take forever to heal.

Dark so early, dinner might last all night without a book to write, without a fight with eternity.

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SKIN

The brain wanted to be skin that healed quickly.

Skin wanted to feel abstractions like hierarchy or revenge.

Stars wished upon falling humans.

Someone waited at the bottom of the stairs to catch the subject of the study.

There was talk of hostages during awkward dinners without salt.

The sea existed on calendars that never traveled.

We knew so much then, it hurt to sing.

Long paragraphs had cadences that went missing.

Flesh clings to its skeleton because the years chisel.

The old woman fell, and the stars couldn’t return her.

Small robots have taught themselves to play soccer.

They don’t manifest any addiction, anxiety, or despair.

When they vote for a leader, some will learn to paint.

Others will write poetry about unknowable human gods.

The mouse in the wall found the hatchway that wouldn’t close completely.

The house is on high alert because of other tragedies.

War etched itself indelibly.

I don’t recognize myself in the wind.

There’s nothing suitable for binge watching.

It could be just another yesterday.

Someone said that on Thursday.

Seven bluebirds line up before winter in a dream play.

A hundred blackbirds leave summer lawns with swoops and reordering.

The package never arrives with any conviction.

It’s preferable to stay awake and let sadness sleep.

Sadness dreams of the missing subject that slid past singing.

Skin uses all its energy to heal.

The brain dreams of skin.

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POSTCARDS HOME

The moon is venting tonight.

The clock sticks to its rungs.

You’re swimming underwater toward something prehistoric.

Climbing a hill that doesn’t go anywhere through cloud.

No one visits that many miles away from the setting sun.

One hand can still fold and clap seaweed or some other green acquisition.

Sun lost in the grass.

Lungs breathing a song no one quite remembers.

It’s become passé to claim stalemate against yourself.

The kingdom always wins.

Tomorrow the moon hides behind entwined trees and chattering bats.

Buses filled with mannequins slip through the rain.

It’s October again.

Friday maybe.

This letter won’t find a stamp.

This phone call won’t discover your labyrinth of stairs.

Only some of this matters.

Only some find fortune in paper cups.

If you’re lucky, the coyotes pierce your dreams with wandering above ground.

An estranged friend calls with hidden bounty though you won’t answer.

Something about a picnic in a forest of litanies.

It wasn’t always like this.

Libraries on fire with lost magic.

Homes pulled inside out by conjecture.

You’ve been meaning to articulate a flight that’s not ridiculous.

Toward the catbirds moving south.

Articulate a better plan.

The hammock left in the basement, so you can measure properly without summer.

Without leaves wrapped in your hair.

On the postcard, there were miracles written in cursive.

The moon didn’t lose its back.

Cicadas weren’t dying.

Summer had been a symphony of abandon.

You found something worthwhile.

Something that makes hide and seek with a new self obsolete.

Something worth mentioning.

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LIGHT INTO TUESDAY

Some of the dead keep growing old with us.

They watch us breathing green light after a storm, playing word games none of us wins,

paying dues in a strange currency that fell under the sea.

The loneliness was too painful to own in those inner rooms larger than intimacy,

windows swollen with a summer that didn’t matter.

Surgeries left inner scars.

The mountain erased itself during conversations not critical to stepping forward to a new view of a sunset that didn’t need us.

You were too metaphysically tired to want anything.

The old woman dropped all her medication, and the blue moon didn’t write back.

The wind braided itself with leaves and light; emerald dresses of angels quivering against September sky.

Cars hugged roads that may or may night be winterized.

The teenage girl in a wheelchair, before dreams lifted, could fly.

An old man transposed childhood.

The birds had been thirsty all day.

The heat, a less important character than time.

You needed to find your way back to the dream under the sink to tell the girl you couldn’t go with her.

Someone might need you.

Someone might decorate night with your absurd dreaming.

The dead say it’s not too much.

It’s not a case of addiction to melancholy.

The answer was under the boat.

The questions were soft tentacles tethered to no one’s watch.

You watch for someone who knows you, who folds the map to your location on the tired grid, faded rivers.

Planets are whispering to stars.

The birds are leaving.

If it’s not enough, maybe wait a day.

Maybe stay until Tuesday.

When the rain becomes us.

When rivers dream new fish and mountains.

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from FLESH: the green room

[13 dancers: antigone, dora, elizabeth, hafiz, jackson, july, lily, question, second, thom, wind, zombie, zygote]

.the stage set for rearranging stories shuffles the decks of divination under your reclining leather seats..

.the set director may have lost his mind with all that climbing uphill to chart daylight

(and eavesdrop on the newly-unionized writers)..

.the dancers are murmuring secrets in a chain;

holding up the sky

for a coveted benediction..

.you should consult the appropriate manual for an orientation to the masquerade parade of shipwrecks,

ghost trains harboring war criminals..

the theatre’s floors of glass proliferate on the backdrop of video screen..

.all those TVs can be dizzying..

(.keep one foot on the floor..)

.don’t tell anyone what happened in the parking garage..

.interpretations shouldn’t ricochet..

.there’s shrapnel in your hair..

.there’s a game we’re playing that no one understands..

.in a future segment, expect the ice of winter with riddles underneath..

.now’s the time to silence your phones though it’s permissible to share videos on TikTok..

.we’re experiencing an over punctuation with the ego floating downhill

into a polluted mote of random kindnesses..

.the AI set designer’s architectural castle is constructed from stainless steel, celluloid, and cubes of glass..

.jesus sang and wept only once..

.judas hanged himself on a poplar tree while willows wept..

.prepositions fell out of parables..

.no one knew where to go until tomorrow..

.you mustn’t drink the water in the new city..

.don’t climb out of the strange memory of your skin until the chorus instructs—

or turn yourself inside out

unless someone is guarding you..

.you’ve been dreaming—

awakening one finger at a time into the moonlight at midnight..

.the place where you grew sharp stones

and couldn’t speak for years..

.now that we’ve gotten to know each other

we can look away..

.eye contact can be so draining..

.the dancers are getting ready in the green room—

reviewing lines that will change..

.templates were privy to the finest poetry, after all..

.some of the syntax-melodies might coalesce,

find themselves..

.someone else’s consciousness, a reprieve..

.blackbirds fly in sequences that shift the sky..

.the 60-year-old barn, a shamble of floorboards dismantled in the snow—

didn’t own an era..

.premise a: algorithms misfunctioned..

.premise b: needles in the muscles didn’t bleed..

.c: sky was tainted..

.d: no one acted appropriately until much later..

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